Doctoral research workshop
"Ann ku, Consultant" it read on the attendee list for the energy workshop my research friends had organised. So what if my surname isn't properly capitalised!
Everybody else had an academic institution after their name. I was a GDI - God Damn Independent.
With hardly anytime to spare, I managed to get to the business school just before the afternoon sessions were to begin. That is, just in time to grab the few morsels leftover from the two hour lunch.
There were only two afternoon sessions, half-an-hour each. I got bored and impatient after five minutes.
Pace yourself, I told myself. Don't reveal that you're bored. Pretend you're listening. Pretend you are a PhD student again.
I was dying to get up to speak. I couldn't wait for the organiser to give me the air space. When he finally mentioned me as an add on, I jumped to the front with my book and several magazines.
"Good afternoon everyone. My name is Anne Ku. I finished my PhD nine years ago."
I told the students from Switzerland, London, Colombia, Denmark, and Brazil about my research into uncertainty in electricity industry undergoing deregulation. I described my own adventures in pursuing flexibility and how that translated into a portfolio career. I introduced the book that I had proposed, signed a contract for, but lost interest in writing and ended up getting others to write the different chapters.
The audience came alive. They were smiling. They were laughing. Here was I --- probably the only one who tested her academic hypotheses in the real world by working in industry. Never mind the assumptions, the modelling techniques, the objective functions and other requirements of rigorous research. I told the students and their doctoral supervisors that I had to find out whether my research was relevant.
I told the students that they needed to decide now whether they wanted to go into academia or into industry after getting their PhD's.
"My examiners tested me only the theory and technique part of my thesis," I reflected. "The real test came when I interviewed for a job in energy."
"It's not enough to know the theory. You have to follow the industry," I said.
Afterwards while sipping that favourite English summer drink Pimms, I found myself surrounded by five students all confessing that they wanted to go into industry. I could tell from their hushed voices that they didn't want their professors to know about their secret plan.
Yes, I remember how it was. I had to pretend I was doing a PhD for academic reasons. Secretly I just wanted to prove to myself that I could get a PhD.
22 July 2004 Thursday
PHD = piled higher and deeper, Le Bon Journal newsletter, Volume 2, Issue